The truth about those cuts . . .

Has anyone added in the costs of all the job losses?

I'm amazed that the hidden costs of the Con-Dem (Lib-Con?) spending cuts have not been fully explored or analysed by business journalists, or the commentariat, so I was delighted to see this excellent letter in the Guardian today from two of the country's top academic economists:

There were some key aspects of the Treasury announcement of public expenditure cuts, which were overlooked and on which Treasury ministers must be pressed (Report, 24 May). Two to which we draw attention are the effects on employment and on the budget deficit.

The effect of scrapping the child trust fund will have little effect on employment as the funds transferred to parents have to be saved, and not spent. But the other cuts will have effects on employment, and a "back of the envelope" calculation would suggest a loss of jobs running well into six figures. It surely behoves the government to provide some estimates of the effects (and then the subsequent rise in the payment of unemployment benefits).

The focus has been on "savings" of £6.2bn. This is presented as though the budget deficit will be reduced by a corresponding amount. This ignores that income and expenditures of public-sector and other workers are taxed, and the reduction of the budget deficit will then be considerably less than the often-quoted £6bn when those reductions in tax receipts are taken into account. Further allowance should be made for the "multiplier" effects of the reduction in public expenditure -- that is the consequent reductions in employment as other forms of expenditure are further reduced -- and the reduction in the budget deficit will be even smaller or perhaps non-existent. Much pain, little gain!

Philip Arestis, University of Cambridge

Malcolm Sawyer, Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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The internet dictionary: what is a Milkshake Duck?

Milkshake ducking is now more common than ever.

The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! Oh, apologies. We regret to inform you that the duck is a racist.

This is the gist of a joke tweet that first went viral in June 2016. It parodies a common occurrence online – of someone becoming wildly popular before being exposed as capital-B Bad. Milkshake Ducks are internet stars who quickly fall out of favour because of their offensive actions. There is no actual milkshake-drinking duck, but there are plenty of Milkshake Ducks. Ken Bone was one, and so was the Chewbacca Mask Lady. You become a Milkshake Duck (noun) after you are milkshake ducked (verb) by the internet.

Bone, who went viral for asking a question in a 2016 US presidential debate, was shunned after five days of fame when sleuths discovered his old comments on the forum Reddit. In them, he seemed to express approval for the 2014 leak of the actress Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos and suggested that the shooting of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 had been “justified”. The Chewbacca Mask Lady – a woman who went viral for a sweet video in which she laughingly wore a mask of the Star Wars character – was maligned after she began earning money for her fame while claiming God had made her go viral for “His glory”.

Milkshake ducking is now more common than ever. It embodies the ephemerality of internet fame and, like “fake news”, reveals our propensity to share things without scrutinising them first.

But the trend also exposes the internet’s inherent Schadenfreude. It is one thing for an online star to expose themselves as unworthy of attention because of their present-day actions and another for people to trawl through their online comments to find something they said in 2007, which they may no longer agree with in 2017.

For now, the whole internet loves milkshake ducking. We regret to inform you that it still doesn’t involve milkshakes. Or ducks.

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear